While a snow storm kept fans at home on Sunday night, the bad weather didn’t stop the New York Islanders from performing well at Nassau Coliseum, as they beat the Montreal Canadiens 4-1.
The Islanders sealed the win on James Wisniewski’s 5-on-3 power play goal at 4:22 in the third. It was his first goal since October 26, also against the Canadiens. The penalty that put the Islanders on the power play was Max Pacioretty’s hit from behind on Mark Eaton. Pacioretty was issued a game misconduct and a major penalty for boarding. Scott Gomez’s tripping penalty at 3:46 put the Islanders on the two-man advantage.
“We got a couple of key goals on the power play when we needed it and it was a turning point in the game for us,” Islanders interim head coach Jack Capuano said.
Eaton was unprepared for the hit.
Goaltender Carey Price #31 of the Montreal Canadiens makes a pad save as James Wisniewski #20 of the New York Islanders look for the rebound on December 26, 2010 at Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, New York. Islanders defeat the Canadiens 4-1. (Photo by Mike Stobe/NHLI via Getty Images)
“Most of the time you’re not expecting to get hit if your back is to the play, but I guess that’s a mistake on my part because you have to always expect a hit,” Eaton said about taking the hit from Pacioretty. “I was just trying to make the play. I made the play and didn’t have the chance to put my hands up to brace myself.”
But just 33 seconds into the penalty call on Pacioretty, PA Parenteau scored the Islanders first power play goal of the night at 2:02, bringing the lead to 3-0.
The Islanders two power play goals were followed by the Canadiens only goal of the game when Tomas Plekanec scored at 7:51 to bring the score to 4-1. Even though Roloson’s shutout was crushed, the team knows his performance in the last few games have been extremely important.
“(Roloson) played outstanding,” Wisniewski said. “The last three games he has played great, making key saves in key situations and keeping the lead for us. We’ve really taken advantage of it and scored some power play goals for him the last three games. We’ve also been winning the special teams battle and now-a-days that’s the key.”
And in the past few games, the Islanders have been getting the shots that count. In the last two, they’ve been outshot by their opponent through the final 40 minutes of play, including the score sheet showing a 31-16 shot differential on Sunday (39-25 final).
But they have capitalized on their chances and have come away with goals, leading to wins. The win over the Canadiens is the Islanders third straight win and their fifth straight game with points.
“Goaltending has been everything to us since I been here,” Islanders interim head coach Jack Capuano said. “They’ve all played well. But Roli, after the last two games, has played real well. He gave us a chance to win the other night and tonight he was key in the second period when the ice was tilted.”
Michael Grabner #40 of the New York Islanders scores a second period goal against Carey Price #31 of the Montreal Canadiens at the Nassau Coliseum on December 26, 2010 in Uniondale, New York. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
While being outshot 16 to seven in the second period, the Islanders went ahead by two goals when Frans Nielsen passed the puck to Michael Grabner for a breakaway at 18:18. As Grabner skated down the center of the offensive zone, he slid the puck off his stick to the left of Canadiens goaltender Carey Price and into the net.
But that wasn’t the Islanders only opportunity in the second period. Islanders forward Matt Moulson was robbed of a goal as he stood in front of Price and grabbed a rebound that crossed the goal line but was waived off during the play. When the whistle blew at 11:26, the play went to video review, but it was deemed ‘no goal’.
“We’re working hard to get to the net,” Parenteau said. “That’s a big change from the bad streak we had. The last five games, we have been going to the net hard and guys want to score goals bad. You can tell. In this locker room, everyone wants to chip in.”
The Islanders had a strong first period against the Montreal Canadiens. Blake Comeau scored on a breakaway, going five-hole on Price at 11:04. Rob Schremp and Eaton took the assists.
“It was big,” Parenteau said about Comeau’s goal. “Right off the bat, we knew with the storm, it was going to be a hard crowd for us. But it was a nice play. When you score the first goal it changes everything.”
The Islanders look to continue their point streak as they take on the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on Monday night.
“We have to play better defensively for sure,” Capuano said about facing the Rangers. “Obviously they have some highly skilled guys on that side and I thought we played them pretty good when we were there last time but we just need certain areas of out game to improve. I think we gave ourselves a chance to win. They are a good hockey team."